Wicked Uncle Review – Fun Gift Ideas For Kids (STEM Toys)

Wicked Uncle is a cool website that specialises in awesome gifts for kids. More than that, it is set up to make it easy for anyone to be able to choose a brilliant suitable present – even if they don’t know the child very well. It is also great if you are simply stuck for good ideas and need some inspiration. 

I was given the opportunity to review their website; they gave me a voucher code and my brief was to choose products with a focus on science and engineering. (Ideal as Squiggle loves STEM toys!) This is the first time I have shopped on their website and I found it super easy to use. I also tried to consider how simple it would be if I was buying for someone I don’t know at all, and I can totally imagine it would be straightforward and take the stress out of it! 

The website allows you to select gender, specific age and categories (such as outdoors, sensory, engineering, creative and various others). Or you can browse all options within any of these sections. I admit I am not a fan of organising toys by gender but I do understand that some customers might want to ‘play it safe’ and find this function useful. Plus there is a good selection in both the boys and girls sections; the range is not divided up in a way that is too stereotypical thankfully. And of course you can just choose ‘all’ for this instead if you prefer to be gender neutral, like us! 

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Given I was looking for engineering toys specifically, I selected that category and looked up the appropriate age range (in this case, 8 – 11 years old). I could then search the products by price or popularity. I have to say, there is an excellent selection of items; including some really unique ideas!

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I spent ages browsing the website and was really impressed. There were lots of items that I wouldn’t have thought of myself and have never spotted them anywhere else before. I also came across lots of great gift ideas for other people while I was browsing, lots of inspiration for future occasions! I eventually decided on the Salt Water Engine Car (£15.95) and Tin Can Cable Car (£14.95) plus I couldn’t resist throwing in the funky Mood Cube (£5.50) too.

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Ordering is easy, and there are options such as gift wrap and choosing a card (at a small extra cost) should you require it. Once ordered, delivery is quite quick; my parcel arrived within a few days. It also comes with a cute (and funny!) thank you card for the gift, which is a nice little touch.

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I chose these particular two items because from the descriptions I could tell that they would be fun, educational toys that Squiggle would really enjoy. I also like the eco- friendly nature of them too; I value toys and activities that emphasise the importance of being environmentally conscious.

I knew Squiggle would find it interesting that the car runs from salt water and this can also lead onto further discussion about clean energy (which is something we have already talked about alot before, but it is still a good reminder!) There were more pieces than I expected, but that’s great as it means the activity actually lasts more than five minutes! It is lovely that we can properly get into it together. 

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I like the tin can cable car activity because it reinforces the concept of reusing and upcycling. I also knew that Squiggle would let her creative side take over and use this as a zip wire for her smaller toys – as this is something she was already trying to design by herself in the garden anyway! Her previous attempts at improvising were fantastic, but this kit is ideal!

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In summary, I am very impressed with the website and will definitely be using it to buy gifts again in the future! It is absolutely brilliant for coming up with unique gift ideas. It also comes highly recommended by others too – it is an award winning service infact; rated 99 out of 100, based on many reviews. Well done, Wicked Uncle!

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*Disclosure: I was given a voucher code so I could shop on Wicked Uncle website for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

The Curiosity Box Review, Giveaway & Discount Code (STEM Science Educational Activities)

When The Curiosity Box tweeted that they were looking for bloggers to review one of their science boxes, we jumped at the chance! As home educators, we are always on the look out for new educational activities, and this one is perfect for us. It is a fun and fascinating science box aimed at 7-11 year olds that can either be purchased as a one-off or via subscription. There are also two size options; nano or mega. Prices for the larger box start at £18 based on one year subscription paid upfront, or £25 per box on a no-commitment basis. The smaller box is £9.95. (Costs include postage and packaging). Gift vouchers are available too, so it would also make a nice Christmas present!

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The Curiosity Box – Mega Box – Electricity Theme

I received a mega box to review, which includes everything needed to complete three separate science activities. Each box has a different theme, for example this box is described as ‘Putting the POW! in Power’ and is all about exploring electricity. It came well packaged and clearly labelled with simple, easy to follow instructions. I really like the tone of the writing; everything is well explained and engaging without being patronising. It also includes some very interesting and inspirational information cards about the history of science and women scientists. 

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Contents of Sparky Sculptures Activity

The three activities are varied and each one teaches the concept using a playful, hands-on approach. Scientific explanations are provided and I feel the information is pitched at a level to make it a truly educational experience for children within the targeted age range. They last a varying amount of time, depending on the activity itself, how quickly the child works and how much discussion occurs. We personally spent a couple of hours in total doing two of the activities. We had a lovely time together, with lots of laughter and of course plenty of learning too!

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Squiggle learning about static electricity

One example of the electricity activities the box contains is exploring circuits. The idea of this activity is simple but effective; design a creature with light-up eyes by creating a circuit using copper foil tape and two LED bulbs.

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Circuits Activity

Squiggle really enjoyed following the instructions to make the circuit and only needed a minimal amount of help to work out what to do. (Obviously all children have different needs so the amount of support required would depend on the child). 

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She decided she would rather make the circuit before designing her character. She spent quite sometime carefully making her circuit.

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Initially the light bulbs didn’t light up. Not to be disheartened, we used our knowledge of circuits to test each of the components separately. We used some of the resources from one of the other activities to do this, but I realised afterwards we didn’t need to and had actually made it more complicated than necessary; all part of the learning process though! However, it was useful that the boxes are generous with the resources that they provide anyway. 

After checking the battery pack, bulbs and leads, it was evident that the issue was with the copper foil tape. More specifically, it was on the corner joints that the circuits stopped working. Testing it all out deepened her learning experience and investigation skills, and became part of the fun. Plus it was a good reminder that the learning is in the doing, not just in the results (as it quite rightly says in the guide too, a valuable point!) But it was most satisfying to figure it out and get it working nonetheless! 

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We really enjoyed The Curiosity Box and would definitely love to use them again in future. I think we would particularly enjoy The Cool Crystals Box and The Super Seeds Box personally! On that note, I am hosting a giveaway for one very lucky reader to win a Nano Crystals Box! To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, simply enter via the rafflecopter widget below. (T&Cs apply).

Last but not least, my readers can enjoy 10% discount on orders using the code LIVECURIOUS10. Visit their website www.curiosity-box.com to shop or subscribe.

You can also follow them on social media for more ideas and inspiration too!

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The Curiosity Box – Social Media/ Contact Details

Disclosure: I was sent The Curiosity Box free in order to provide an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. 

Competition: Win a GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Set

Do you have a budding scientist in the house? Would they love to get their hands on a GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Set? Be in with a chance to win by entering my rafflecopter prize draw.

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GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Set comes complete with everything you need to study professional specimen slides, or you can create your own! With 50x to 600x magnification, this microscope set is a great educational resource, ideal for learning at home. Please note that the microscope requires 2 AA batteries that are not included in the prize. The manufacturer suggests that this set is suitable for ages 8 years old and over.

Edited 28th November Congratulations to Ray who won this brilliant prize! Thank you for all the lovely comments, I wish I had one for everyone!!!

If you want to purchase your own GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Set, you can do so using my Amazon UK affiliate link below.

Remember you can also subscribe to my blog via email to make sure you don’t miss any future giveaways!

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Enter your email to receive notification of new posts. Please note this is optional and NOT part of the competition. Actual entry into the giveaway is ONLY via rafflecopter above.

Terms & Conditions of Prize Giveaway:

• All information detailing how to enter the giveaway forms part of these terms and conditions.

• This prize sweepstake begins at midnight on 20th November 2016 and closes at 11.59pm on 27th November 2016.

• Enter via Rafflecopter widget embedded in this blog post. This is the only way to enter into the sweepstake.

• One prize winner will be drawn at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries received when competition ends.

• The winner will be contacted using details provided within 48hrs of the competition closing. If the winner does not respond within 5 days the prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be drawn.

• The winner will receive one GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Set. The prize will be posted within 10 days of receiving the address. Please bare in mind delivery times may vary, especially over the Christmas period.

• Prize is strictly non-transferable and cash alternative will be offered.

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GOOD LUCK!

Review: Snap Circuits (STEM Educational Toy)

Squiggle received a Snap Circuits set for her 8th Birthday back in May from a kind family member. There are lots of different kits available, but the particular one she has is this one…

Snap circuits are designed for children aged 8 plus and are a great educational resource to help to teach STEM science. The lights set comes with 55 parts to do over 175 different projects. There is also a detailed instruction booklet that has clear diagrams and useful explanations.

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Squiggle and I really like this set. Some of the projects are quite similar but there is enough variation to keep her interested. We have used it together quite a few times since she got it and there are still plenty more projects left to do. Depending on how much discussion there is over it, how long it takes to read and follow the instructions, and how many times it is used, each project could last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours!

Whilst we have always chosen to do this activity together, it is probably suitable for most children to do independently. Some children may find the instructions difficult for some of the more complex projects, depending on age and ability, but the instructions are very child friendly with clear visual diagrams. The parts have codes on that match the pictures so this is also very helpful. Occasionally some parts can be a tiny bit tricky to snap into place at first, mainly if a child has any fine motor difficulties. But the design makes it as easy for children to do by themselves as possible, and the parts are very sturdy and well made.

Overall, it is a really good quality product with great educational value. It feels to us like a good investment and it certainly made a lovely present! We would recommend.

I also noticed that there is an eco set now available too. I have not used this one so am not able to comment but I would certainly love to add it to Squiggle’s collection! Green living is a keen interest in our family so this would be a great way to teach about alternative, clean energy sources.

If you are looking for an alternative to Snap Circuits for any reason, Cambridge Brainbox Electronics is another similar kit that I have heard other home educators recommend, but we have not tried it personally. There is a car and boat themed set for transport enthusiasts aged 8 plus…

There is also a set for older children too, Cambridge Brainbox Explorer 2. This kit is aimed for children aged 11 plus.

What other educational STEM resources have you found? We would love to hear from you!

This post contains affiliate links.